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Home-Based Business Strategies: Three Tips to Success for Freelancers and Creative People

I’ve been a creative entrepreneur since 2002, when I formed my own publishing company to publish my books. After a couple of years I landed a book deal and realized I didn’t want to shut down my company. So I began helping others turn their thoughts, ideas, and research into marketable books.

I became a creative entrepreneur. A creative entrepreneur is someone who uses creative skills and abilities such as writing, design, etc., to build a business. I met many other creative people who dreamed of running their own businesses but did not know how. Some had tried to run their own businesses but had gone back to the 9 to 5 after a while. Others worked their “day jobs” on the side. Not many worked full-time at their own businesses.

I realized there were several mistakes that prevented most of the creative people I knew from succeeding. If you correct — or avoid these mistakes — you can have home-based success as a creative person or freelancer.

Mistake No. 1: Relying on one big client too heavily. It’s tempting to rely on one big client or gig and slack off on looking for other business. But this is a dangerous mistake. That is because when that client cuts back on the work it is sending your work or cuts you out altogether, you are suddenly staring at a work schedule with no projects on it.

How to fix it: You can learn certain marketing strategies that allow you to take control of your business by putting you in front of people who need your services. Learn how to find potential clients, even when you are busy with a big client.

Mistake No. 2: Accepting ridiculously low rates. I know it’s tough out there. I know it’s difficult to keep getting turned down for projects or rejected for work, but keep marketing and keep pitching your services. Work will come, if you are good and if you keep at it. Accepting ridiculously low rates doesn’t help you. In fact, it can hurt because it means you are spending your effort to produce work that is not worth the time invested.

How to fix it: Be proactive when it comes to pricing a project. Don’t wait for a potential client to tell you what he or she will pay. Learn how to be competitive and set your own rates.

Mistake No. 3: Working without any assurance of being paid. Freelancers, especially those who are new to business or lack the confidence to assert themselves, often will work for free on the promise that the client will give them paying work later. What happens in too many instances is that the paying work never materializes. And when you work for free or very low rates, you devalue your work and skills to the point where the person who hired you won’t even consider you for a more expensive project.

How to fix it: Learn how to negotiate with potential clients who want to “test you out” by having you work for free. Develop a strategy for providing the work and being paid for it, without turning off your potential clients.

When you correct — or avoid — these three business mistakes by freelancers, you can boost your income, increase the number of projects you bring in, and become a real creative entrepreneur. You can make money writing. Be among those who successfully work from home. Your dream of leaving your day job, working from home, and creating a lifestyle around your creative work can really come true.

A Business Web Design Needs to Be Great to Stand Out Among the Competition

Three things a business owner should generally avoid doing, unless they’re a graphic artist or a copywriter, are designing their own website, writing their own marketing copy, or designing their own brochures. As with any professional skill, good writers and graphic designers develop their craft through years of training and practice. Whenever a business owner (or someone they designate) ventures outside their realm of expertise and takes a stab at a copywriting or graphic design project, their lack of experience usually shows.

Website design is no exception; and today, Internet users are much more attuned to the difference between a professional-looking website and an amateurish one. It’s true that not all small business owners need to hire professional website designers, especially those that are content with staying small. Sometimes a simple online brochure created on an easy-to-use template will do the job. The downside, however, is that a website that’s thrown together conveys a message of cutting corners and sacrificing quality, which doesn’t reflect very well on the business it represents.

Is Great Web Design a Realistic Goal?

Businesses that need to project an image of quality, expertise, or trustworthiness usually need to have a web design that reflects those qualities. That’s where professional website designers come in, because they know how to select and combine images, fonts, and navigational functions that will make a company website impressive to look at and easy to navigate.

Great web design, which is attainable by virtually any talented web designer, makes an indelible impression on existing and potential clients of a business. In the same way that the appearance of a store, professional office, or restaurant makes you want to go in — or avoid the place entirely — a business web site can have a similar effect.

When a website is aesthetically pleasing, informative, and well organized, it increases the probability that site visitors will explore the site, learn more about its products and services, and be more inclined to become new or repeat customers.

One of the reasons that the services of a talented web designer/developer are often necessary for a small business is that the business climate is so competitive. All things being equal, a great web design could be a contributing factor to a local building contractor, a law firm, a catering business, or a chiropractic office gaining market share. Granted, there may be other factors in place, such as an effective social media marketing program, a public relations campaign, or just a better method of generating leads, but great web design is often one of the building blocks of success.

Why does it matter to have a professionally designed website that stands out among the crowd? It’s because of the same reasons that sales letters, television ads, and other forms of traditional marketing need to catch and hold the public’s attention: people are bored with sameness and mediocrity. By hiring an affordable small business website designer who knows his or her stuff, you can create an impressive 24/7 advertisement of your business that can answer questions, provide useful information, and promote your products and services.

Whether or not you believe that perception is everything in attracting and retaining customers, having a professionally designed website does create and project a clear image of quality, high standards, and being attuned to the latest technologies, strategies, and techniques. To a lot of potential clients and customers, that can make all the difference.